To mark this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) on Monday, March 8, not-for-profit organisations VERTO and Tradeswomen Australia are celebrating the outstanding achievements of women in trades and encouraging more women to follow a trade career path.

Managing Director of Tradeswomen Australia, Fiona McDonald, believes the theme for IWD 2021, #ChooseToChallenge, should inspire more businesses to realise the benefits of a diverse workforce.

“Women in trades are remarkable, yet they represent less than two per cent of the workforce. This International Women’s Day, we will not only be celebrating the incredible achievements that all tradeswomen have accomplished in the past 12 months, but we also hope to educate and empower organisations to consider greater gender diversity,” Ms McDonald said.

“Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) research tells us that gender segregation in the Australian workforce hasn’t changed much in 20 years, yet it is proven that a diverse workforce has so many benefits for a business, including better workplace culture and increased customer loyalty.

“The impact on the economy is enormous too. According to a study by KPMG, halving the gap between male and female employment rates could inject up to $60 billion into the Australian economy, which would significantly help recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, a scenario that has had a huge impact on women across Australia.

“McKinsey research reveals that while women make up 39 per cent of global employment, they also account for 54 per cent of COVID-19-related job losses, which really does shine a spotlight on the significant disadvantage women face on a global scale.”

VERTO Chief Operating Officer, Alyssa Bennett, said IWD was also an opportunity to highlight some of the many success stories of women breaking new ground and building fulfilling careers in male-dominated industries.

“At VERTO, we have helped many women follow their dreams into a trade career in everything from mechanics to cabinet making,” she said.

“IWD gives us the chance to acknowledge and celebrate these achievements because many women continue to challenge stereotypes and misconceptions about their chosen career path, and in doing so, pave the way for others.

“When female school graduates are thinking about careers and their next steps after high school, they shouldn’t be afraid to think outside the square. Seek out rounded career advice and speak to people who are experts. Ask them to help you identify options that suit your interests and use online tools like VERTO’s CareerGate to explore a wide range of options,” she said.

Ms McDonald, who built a successful trade career prior to her role with TWA by completing a mechanical apprenticeship, believes apprenticeships are an excellent employment mechanism and one more women should consider, particularly now, with women being disproportionately disadvantaged by redundancies and job losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

”During COVID-19, 482,000 women across Australia lost employment, and there are currently 800,000 women who want to increase their workforce participation. With skill shortages in many trade industries, a trade career can offer excellent job prospects today and a positive outlook for the future,” she said.

As part of IWD, VERTO and Tradeswomen Australia have this week released a number of promotional videos featuring talented young female apprentices from Sydney and Geelong.

“Tradeswomen Australia is proud to partner with VERTO, an inclusive organisation that supports diversity and promotes the importance of training and education for women,” Ms McDonald said.

“Together, we are looking forward to supporting more tradeswomen in 2021 and working towards achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.”